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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

NH-02: Charlie Bass by the Numbers

Posted by DavidNYC

If you've ever clicked over to his website, you might know that, in addition to being a community activist and former prosecutor, Paul Hodes is also an accomplished musician. What I'm sure you didn't know is that Charlie Bass is also a performer. In fact, he's one of the best B-actors the GOP has ever had - right up alongside Arnie and Ronnie. And like his fellow Republican thespians, Bass plays the same role, over and over and over. His recurring bit? That old evergreen, the GOP "moderate."

Charlie takes every opportunity to tell voters at home what a moderate he is. Just take a look here or here or here or here or here... I think you get the picture. Bass likes to ham it up real good. But how can you tell that this is nothing more than a facade, that Bass wears the term "moderate" like a cheap costume?

It's all in the numbers, and the numbers don't lie. Congressional Quarterly has been tracking "party unity" scores since time immemorial. They look at votes where a majority of Republicans oppose a majority of Democrats, and then they track how each member of Congress voted in those votes. Divide the latter number by the former and you have a party unity score, expressed as a percentage. (Though this data is mostly behind CQ's subscription firewall, you can see a PDF of the 2004 numbers here.) And here's Charlie Bass's resume for the last six years:

Charlie Bass's Party Unity Scores

2005: 87%
2004: 85%
2003: 91%
2002: 85%
2001: 85%
2000: 85%

These are not the voting habits of a "moderate" - they're the patterns of a true believer, a kool-aid drinker, a dedicated GOP team player. But evidently, in Charlie's worldview, being a "moderate" means you vote with Tom DeLay, Denny Hastert and Roy Blunt at least 85% of the time, if not more often. This includes votes for the Paris Hilton Tax Relief Act (aka estate tax repeal), the odious bankruptcy bill, and, for good measure, the budget bill which cut student loans by $13 billion.

Charlie Bass is a vaudeville phony. You know it, I know it, and much of blogland knows it. But let's not kid ourselves: We're a bunch of political junkie nerds. I understand why ordinary New Hampshirites might not know the truth about Bass - it's because he's been misleading them for over a decade. But Bass can't hide from the truth for much longer. And now priority number one for the Hodes campaign is to expose him. It's gonna come as a double-whammy for Bass: He'll be revealed as both an extremist and a phony all at the same time.

Oh, so sorry, Charlie!

Posted at 11:10 PM in 2006 Elections - House, New Hampshire | Technorati

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Just looking at that 2004 PDF, what jumps out is that Bass's party unity score was higher than any of the Connecticut Republicans, higher than 3 of New Jersey's 6 Republicans, higher than Thune in South Dakota, higher than Castle in Delaware. Seems like there are a number of specific conclusions to be drawn from that, but they all add up to him not being a moderate, especially given his context.

Posted by: MissLaura [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 29, 2006 12:35 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Bass was also a good actor all the way back in 1994, when he pledged and subsequently voted for 12 year term limits for the House.

If he had any integrity, and the media any memory, he would be announcing his retirement from the House right now.

Posted by: yankeedoodler [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 29, 2006 06:26 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Oh neat, you said something about my district. Yeah, Bass is pretty much a basstard who doesn't really represent this area (as you said somehwere else, it's a Dem-leaning district), and the only way he gets re-elected every two years is by pushing the 'moderate' card as much as he possibly can. This year will be the first one that I'll be eligible to vote against him, and I am looking forward to relishing the opportunity.

Posted by: Arlen [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 1, 2006 12:12 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

CQ numbers aren't considered a good indicator of ideology because are heavily skewed by procedural votes. The National Journal rankings are considered much more useful because they analyze actual substantive policy votes, and provide an actual ranking, not just a raw number. Here's Charlie Bass's career according to National Journal, with the number indicating the percentage of the House with more liberal voting records than his own. A high number would indicate that he was much more conservative than his colleagues, low would indicate much more liberal, and 50 would be dead-on centrist:

2005 54.5
2004 50.8
2003 55
2002 57.7
2001 58.3
2000 60
1999 70.3
1998 55.8
1997 59.7
1996 68.3
1995 61.5

Charlie Bass has been in the 50's for most of his career, as close to a consistent centrist as you will find on either side of the aisle.
As you say, it's all in the numbers. Numbers themselves don't lie, but they are subject to interpretation, and numbers that include a high percentage of meaningless votes simply aren't very useful except in a comparative context.

Probably the most important number to look at in the Bass/Hodes re-match is 20, which is the margin Hodes lost by in 2004 in an otherwise Democratic year in NH when Kerry carried NH's 2nd by a large margin and an incumbent GOP governor was upset. That Hodes managed a scant 38% in a Democratic year in a Democratic state is the most significant indicator of his severe shortcomings as a candidate who has, after all, a .000 record in elections.

Posted by: Quincy1786 [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 5, 2006 03:22 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Ah, the pushback. Dear Quincy, if you think you can just waltz in here and act like we're ignorant about anything that happened before today, you've got another think coming.

It's especially amusing to be talked down to about "context" by someone who studiously ignores the context provided by the very site he's on. You can bray all you like about "20" being the most important number, but don't insult us by pretending that we haven't addressed the past in great detail.

Oh, and for those National Journal numbers: Given how far to the right Congress has moved over the last decade-plus, sitting in the middle of 535 legislators might literally mean you are a "centrist" - but it certainly doesn't mean you're a moderate. Context, as always, is everything.

Posted by: DavidNYC [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 5, 2006 11:24 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment